Having an amazingly looking website with smooth navigation can surely give your business a head start. But that’s just half the work done as the site needs to load at lightning speed when it comes to delivering excellence in user experience. This is something you cannot compromise with, consider that a site that takes even a few extra seconds to load is likely to be abandoned by the users for good. Losing your customers is the last thing you would want to happen in the aggressive online selling scenario.
Caching can play a significant role in saving you from the situation. It makes your website extremely fast, which translates into better SEO rankings and increased user satisfaction. Needless to say, you get the benefits of higher conversions and revenue for your business. Moreover, you secure the winning advantage in the competitive online landscape. Considering the immense benefits that you can derive from caching, it makes sense to know the technology better and understand its role in the success of websites.
What is caching?
Caching is a complex technology that works to reload the pages and content once accessed by the user on their system. Typically, internet users access and view websites hundreds or thousands of times in a month. Every time a browser requests a page, the server ends up doing a bunch of complex and time-consuming calculations to fetch it for the user. It does myriad tasks such as retrieving the latest posts, generating the header and footer, finding the site’s sidebar widgets, and so on.
Despite the work, the result will be exactly the same unless the web page is updated. Caching cuts down the workload by simply making the server remember the final result for individual web pages. They need not process each request separately every time the user wants to access the page again. Obviously, you can expect them to load faster, even while exerting lesser pressure on the server.
What are the types of caching?
Broadly speaking, caching comes in two categories, namely browser, and server. Browser caching is handled on the client (user) side and allows the browser to store the files once accessed for a while. These can be retrieved every time the user visits the site again. The first time access requires a few seconds for all the resources on the site to be downloaded but the loading time decreases significantly on subsequent attempts.
Server caching, on the other hand, is done on the server. Rather than processing every single request, the server stores the results of these requests. Later, it goes on to serve these saved results, making everything much faster. The server cache is further classified into full page cache and object cache. While full page cache stores the entire page, object cache retains just bits and pieces of data.
How are cached pages served?
To understand the caching process, it becomes imperative to see how a page is served. The first time a user visits a cached page, they receive it in the normal way. It means that the request is received and the server processes it and shows the web page by turning it into an HTML file and sending it to the visitor’s web browser. If caching is turned on, this HTML file is stored by the server within its random access memory. The next time the user views the page again, the server need not process and convert it to HTML. Rather, it simply sends the HTML file it already stores to the browser.
On the other hand, the page may not remain the same when the user accesses it again after some days or weeks. Obviously, website owners update them regularly with new content, product images or offers, as the need may be. With caching on, you can expect the server to retrieve the old content rather than the updated one. Thankfully, that’s not the case because properly set up caching systems are capable of handling such scenarios. You can click here to understand how Expires Headers work for WordPress caches to turn up the updated versions of web pages each time. Typically, a WordPress cache deletes the cached version of the archive pages when they are updated. It leaves all other pages untouched since these are not changed.
How effective is caching?
Now that you know all about how caching works, it is imperative to find out more about its efficacy. Everything boils down to site speed when it comes to user experience. If your site is well-coded, you can expect it to load instantly, taking as little as two seconds. That sounds fast enough and you would really want to know the logic behind going the extra mile with caching. Surely, implementing caching is still a worthwhile effort because it can go a long way in shaving the load time even further. You cannot overlook the value of even a fraction of a second for loading speed because it can take the UX a notch higher.
A faster loading speed is not the only benefit you can achieve by implementing caching. In fact, you don’t just make your site better, you also ensure that it gets a performance boost. Most importantly, caching equips the site handle the burden of sudden traffic spikes more efficiently. Whether it is the holiday season or Black Friday sales, you need not worry about downtime or glitches in user experience. With caching on, you can rest assured about scalability or flawless performance, no matter how much traffic comes to the website at any point in time.
It becomes clear that caching is an amazing technology that is capable of speeding up your website significantly, without sacrificing anything in the process. Not only does it increase the load times but also reduces the server loads as well. So you can be sure about your website matching the expectations of the users and delivering them the best possible experiences. Investing in caching is, therefore, no brainer for website owners who want to win the customers and retain them for good.